Responsibility For Children With Dogs

Each year plenty of families bring a new dog into the home. It is very important to include all family members in the care of a dog and it’s a great opportunity to teach children how to responsibly care for a pet.

Very often parents are unsure of how to include their children in their dog’s raising.  Hopefully this blog gives you a great start.

These are responsibilities that would be excellent to encourage your children to do each and every single day. You may need to modify them depending on your child’s age.

Age 4-7

  • Pet your dog everyday- teach your child to gently Pat the dog and make sure they do this every day.
  • Give your dog a treat every morning– if your child is younger it may include placing the tree on the floor. If your child is older they may ask them to sit before placing the treat on the floor
  • Help brush the dog- have your kiddo help you brush the dog as he gets older this can become his responsibility.

Age 7-15

  1. Feed your dog– at age 7 your have children start to feed the dog every morning and evening.
  2. Brush the dog– at age 7 it can become your child’s responsibility to brush the dog each day or every other day depending on your breed of dog. This is a great bonding opportunity.
  3. Practice training– at age 7 I have your children start helping you practice sit, down, skake and stay with your dog. As your child gets older this can become their daily responsibility.
  4. Walks– start to go for a family walk for at least 20 minutes everyday. As your child becomes older this also can become their responsibility to do with the dog.  If you have a small breed or a particularly well trained dog if your child ask to go outside and play ask them to take the dog along with them.

Age 15 or older
By now your teenager should already be in the habit of feeding his dog, walking, brushing and training their dog.  They are also almost at the age where they’re going to be interested in getting their first car and responsibility should be taking a step up. This is a great opportunity for them to start learning adult projects like scheduling vet appointments.

  1. Vet appointments- go over with your kiddo how often your dog needs to go to the veterinarian and teach them to call and make their own appointments for their dog.
  2. Puppy class– if you just got a new dog or puppy it’s a great time to have your teenager take responsibility attend puppy classes with their new dog. If you have an older dog this could be a great opportunity for a refresher course.
  3. Bath time and brushing– can be your child’s full responsibility at this age.
  4. Walking daily or running- if your child is in to sports it could be a great opportunity for your child to stay fit with your pet.

For fun games for kids and dogs to play together: click here

Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated behavior issues. Many veterinarians, pet store workers, and even trainers misdiagnose dogs and provide owners with bad advice that will be counterproductive to True separation anxiety. Separation anxiety or any other anxiety is never fixed overnight. 

Is it truly anxiety?

1. Is your dog anxious and other areas? Does your dog easily become stressed in a new environment?  It is pretty rare for a dog to only be anxious in one area such as during separation. Most of the time dogs that have true anxiety will display anxiety and other situations as well

2. Is your dog chewing and digging at the doors and windows? Or is your dog chewing up everything? Most dogs with separation anxiety will fixate at points of exit such as the front door or window.

3. Does your dog start to get anxious when you’re getting ready for work in the morning? A dog that is simply chewing or getting into trouble while you’re away due to boredom will not become worried when you start preparing for work however a dog with anxiety will.

I like to break down treatment of separation anxiety into three separate categories. Management, training (behavior modification), and medical.

Here are some MANAGEMENT (not treatment) rules for separation anxiety. 

1.     Leave a radio or T.V. on.

2.    Give a high value bone as you are walking out the door.  As soon as you come home pick up the bone.  You want him to think “oh man, mom’s home.”  These bones also act as a pacifier. Pick up raw natural meat bones at specialty pet stores such as chuck and dawn, heroes pets, or wag and wash. Be sure to switch them out daily, so your dog doesnt get bored. 

3. Never get excited when you come home.  Stay calm for the first ten minutes and ignore the dog.
4. Your dog needs to be exercised hard enough that they are out of breath.  Not a little out of breath, exhausted.  This will release the same feel good chemicals in the brain as it does in humans.  
5. Practice Calm behaviors before leaving the house such as relax on a mat.

6. Record yourself reading a chapter or two out of a book. Play it looped when you leave the house and another room.

7. Dog walker, dog daycare or dog sitter. Some dogs me still experience anxiety when their owners are out of site, but a stranger is present. Most dogs have a much easier time to adjusting if they are being checked on through the day or even better staying with somebody through the day.

Separation anxiety is never treated through just one method. It frequently takes layering treatments such as medication and behavior modification for separation anxiety to be treated.  
I strongly recommend that you get with a veterinarian who has additional education in Behavior. We call these Veterinary behaviorists. They can address all three elements needed to truly treat separation anxiety.

 For more information on separation anxiety please visit the videos.

What is Anxiety in Dogs
Treating Anxiety in Dogs



Too many dogs suffer from the terminal illness of under socialization…

As a trainer I often meet confused dog owner’s stating that they thought they did everything right socializing their young puppy.  Often times it comes down to three major socialization misunderstandings which are stopping to early, believing that socializing with the other dog in the home or a select 3-4 dogs or people is enough and incorrectly socializing your puppy.

Many owners are under the impression that socialization begins and ends with puppy class and while puppy class is a fabulous way to develop manners, healthy bite inhibition, and get wonderful feedback on your puppy’s socialization status socialization should begin before 8 weeks and continue until at least 8 months of age.   Giant breeds that emotionally develop slower should ideally be socialized even longer.  Socialization should begin at the breeder’s where they are introduced to sounds, smells and people who carefully handle the puppy and help it become prepared for the new home.  Good breeders will be able to explain their socialization protocols and will likely encourage you to continue with their plan for socialization.  Once home and before puppy class begins your puppy should have lots of new visitors especially children and men. 

Hosting a puppy party or a game night is a great way to increase the number of positive experiences your dog has with people.  This is practically true if there are not children in the home. 

The next step is puppy classes.  Good puppy classes are done in clean indoor facilities that are regularly sanitized and have vaccinated dogs and puppies.  Trainers in puppy classes can quickly spot gaps in socialization giving you early indication if you need to focus on additional socialization, plus puppies will learn how to be gentle with humans and other puppies.  This is also a great time for

After completion of vaccinating your puppy trips to dog friendly retail stores like murdoch’s, jax’s, playgrounds and drop-in classes at least twice a week will help ensure that your continues to maintain or improve his socialization while his personality continues to develop into adolescents.

Another comment I frequently hear is “My dog was well socialized; she had plenty of opportunity to play with the other dog in the home and spends a lot much of the day with our family.”  That isn’t socializing.  It’s just not, I’m sorry, I wish it were that easy, but your dog has to have an opportunity to meet at least 20 new people a week.  Your dog should regularly be allowed to have positive interactions with men and children whom your dog is not familiar with and if you have a breed that can be aloof then you should double the number of people your dog meets.

Bad socializing is often the result of very well meaning dog owners.  Socialization isn’t all about exposing your dog to as many new things as possible or exposing your dog to as many new people as possible it  must be done in a methodically and practical way.  If your dog is hiding under a chair in puppy class you are creating issues NOT preventing them.   When socializing your puppy be sure to look at it from your puppy’s point of view…. receiving treats from a 7 year old girl creates a positive association ensuring that your puppy will look forward to the next time he meets her while being sat on by a 7 year old girl may result in a attempt to avoid the 7 year old girl.  Meeting a and greeting a large friendly adult dog may result in learning proper manners  while being snapped at or stepped on by a large adult dog may create a fear which may later turn into defensive aggression. 

Consider the quality of all socialization opportunities and closely watch to see how your puppy responds to each.  If you are putting the time into socialization quality of the socialization matters and it MUST be positive.

Keep up the socializing and feel  free to come watch our classes visitors and prospective puppy buyers are always encouraged to come watch.

To learn more about how to properly socialize:click here

House Training Tips

Heeler puppy quote
First things first make a very clear constant schedule. Make sure the whole family agrees on it.   Your schedule must be the same, everyday. 

This should include:

  • A potty break as soon as they wake up.

  • Never leave the food bowl down.  Feed your dog and if they don’t eat pick up the food after thirty minutes

  • Two feedings a day

  • A potty break after each meal

  • Kennel when unable to supervise the more we can catch them in the act the better.

  • A potty break before bed time

If you have a very young dog or a puppy kennel training might be a great opportunity to address house training along with other Behavior challenges such as trash can diving and chewing too!click here for kennel training

A very old or very young dog may not be able to hold it for very long. Consider these questions when determining this:

  • Does he or she hold it in the kennel? 

Do they seem to know when they are looking for a place to go?


  • Clean accidents with an enzymatic cleanser to minimize odors that might attract the dog back to the same spot.

  • Once your dog is house trained in your home, he may still have accidents when visiting others’ homes. That’s because dogs need to generalize their learning to new environments. Just because they seem to know something in one place does NOT mean that they’ll automatically know that thing everywhere. You’ll need to watch your dog carefully when you visit new places together and be sure to take him out often.

  • Likewise, if something in your dog’s environment changes, he may have a lapse in house training. For example, a dog might seem completely house trained until you bring home a large potted tree—which may look to him like a perfect place to lift his leg!

  • Never leave your dog unsupervised, until he/she is house trained. It’s okay to give them a kong in the kennel while you take a shower.

  • Give your dog a treat after going potty outside.

  • Don’t bring your dog inside right after she goes potty, some dogs will start to hold it in hopes of going for a longer walk.
  • If you would like to teach your dog to ring a bell to alert you when they have to go out please start here:  bell training
  • Bennett Canine Training

Games For Kids And Dogs

We love having kids join our training classes a lot of time parents are unsure of how to include their children in their dogs training. This article focuses on games that can keep both your kids and dogs occupied while teaching each other appropriate interactions.

Games to encourage kids to be involved with the dog’s training.

Red Light Green Light:

Who is it good for?

It is good for any dogs or puppies that get to excited when the kids play.

Here is how to play:
Have the kids run around the back yard (green light) any time the dog/puppy gets in the children’s personal space to much such as jumping, mouthing or getting to rough yell red light. The kids freeze and you get a sit from your dog. Once your dog sit you can restart the game with a green light. This helps a dogs learn boundaries getting too close to the kids while they are playing ends the game and helps to teach puppies how to control themselves.

Make your own obstacle course:

Who is it good for?

 Almost all dogs and puppies as ling as they can take treats gently.

Here is how to play:
Supply your kids with regular house hold objects like cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, broom sticks, step stools, or kids tunnels. Help your kids use these things to make their own obstacle course. Then give your kids a treat and see who can get their dog to go through the course the fastest. This helps dogs to learn how to be lured and it helps kids understand how to get dogs to do what they want without physically manipulating them.

Hide and Seek:
Who it is good for?

It is good for all dogs and puppies that can take treats gently.

Here is how to play:
Start by having the kids hide in the same room as the dog give each kid a treat. Tell the dog find “Molly” or find “Johnny” then ignore your dog and let the child he is finding call him. When the dog/puppy finds the correct person he gets a treat. When the dog/puppy gets the hang of it you can use the whole house to play.
This helps your puppy learn to come when called and learn the family member’s names.

Round Robin:
Who is it good for?

All dogs and puppies that can take treats gently.
Here is how to play:
Everyone should have a few treats maybe five (let the children count the treats and pass them out). Everyone should stand in circle and with your dog in the middle have the first person walk up to the dog put the treat to the dog’s nose and say “Come” Once they say “come” have them run back into their place in the circle when the puppy gets to them give them 1 treat. Have the person on the other side of the circle call the dog and then take turns. It is important that if the dog comes to the wrong person the person who didn’t call the dog ignores them completely until it is their turn.
This teaches kids how to call their dog and it teaches dogs to come to everyone in the family!

Find It:
Who is it good for?

Dogs with extra energy

Here is how to play:
Hold your dog by the collar and have your child hide your dog’s favorite treat (Insight at first, once they get better the hiding spot can be harder) When your child is done hiding the treat have your kiddo come back and tell your dog to “Find it” as soon as the child cues the dog to “find it” release the collar!

Good luck with training your dog or puppy! Getting the whole family involved helps to ensure that your puppy or dog can be handled and controlled by all family members and more importantly it teaches children safe ways to interact with their dogs and builds a unbreakable bond!

Want your kids to do more with your dogs? 

For more ways to keep your kids involved with raising the dog click here

trick training

​I want to buy/adopt a puppy, so I can raise it how I want to

This is one of the most common and to be honest annoying phrases shelter workers hear, not because we don’t have at least a dozen puppies that need homes but because it shows a major lack of understanding. Normally, we don’t have the 30 minutes it would take to educate people. It is also doubtful that if we took this time to educate that we would be “heard” since the adopter is most likely a self-appointed expert who has owned dogs before.

Anymore most shelters have extensive training programs. Many of the dogs that shelters adopt out have a solid foundation of obedience, some of ours could even pass their canine good citizen. Most are already through their house training stages, have learned sit, down, stay, place, focus ect. When you adopt an adult dog who already has a foundation of obedience than the time you spend on training can be on the “fun stuff” jumping right into freestyle heeling, agility or nose work.  
You can’t teach an older dog how to adjust into your family…
Actually by picking an adult you can ensure a match that already fits your family. Many of our shelter dogs came to us because families with really good intentions adopted a puppy that they wanted to raise “how they wanted.” Why wouldn’t that be perfect? They could raise their puppy and it could grow up with their kids? They already had dogs in the past they know how to properly raise a puppy. So why did they find themselves standing in the lobby of the shelter surrendering their black lab a few years later? The answer is always a little different, but for the most part the same.
They kept putting off training him. They didn’t take him to puppy classes because “they had dogs before”, and they didn’t have time to work with him because they were too busy taking Mary to soccer practice and Joey to his playdates with both parents having full time jobs they were too busy and to tired at the end of the day. 
The truth is that you can train a dog of any age. Yes, you heard me. It is true that there are critical stages of development for puppies but there is a reason many major organizations are looking to adult shelter dogs for their rescue prospects. From service dogs to national disaster search dogs many organizations are now turning away from time consuming puppy raisers and expensive pedigreed puppies and searching local shelters to find their next adult prospect. Ask Freedom Service Dogs if they would rather have a playful, socialized, healthy adult lab mix or a lab puppy where they have to do all the work.

Shelters have come a long way in the last 5 years. Now almost all shelters test for everything. They know if a dog is confident, if they have strong toy drive and if they will tolerate children.  
It is NOT all about how you raise them! Think about it, if you raise a border collie and a great Pyrenees in the exact same pen with the same environmental stimulus (sheep) the border collies will herd and the Pyrenees will protect. Genetics play a role in behavior. It’s why labs fetch and mastiffs watch the ball being thrown and roll on their backs only to continue their naps. There is also a great deal of temperament variation within a litter, particularly in cross breed litters. When you are adopting a young puppy there is NO guarantee about the adult dog’s temperament. Both genetics and the way they are raised play a major role, but by evaluating an adult dog you can know exactly how the dog will interact with other dogs, cats, kids, if they will play fetch, if they will be confident and if they will have enough drive to participate in dog sports.

Do you really have the time to raise the puppy the way you want? Socialization shouldn’t stop at 1 year old it should continue for a minimum of the first three years. A well socialized dog isn’t one who just went to puppy classes, it is one who has been interacting with new environments, sounds, people and animals on a daily basis all the way through their adolescents.  
Training is more than your dog sitting at home in the kitchen when there are no distractions, it is being able to take your dog in public and have them display good manners and be able to focus on their handler with distraction. Do you really want a puppy that you have to run 7 miles or take them to daycare to prevent them from eating your kid’s toys or would you rather have an adult dog that is passed their chewing stages and is content with a lovely walk around the block.

Picking a dog that fits YOUR life is important, but picking a dog whose needs you can meet is even more important. Don’t let picking a dog who will be in your life for the next 10-12 years be a speed dating session.


Waiting for a home

Train your dog to stay

The stay cue is one of the most important cues to teach dogs. Everyone would like to enjoy a patio lunch at a restaurant with your dog laying at your feet and this can best be accomplished with teaching a strong stay cue. Stay is great when your hands are full and you need to drop the leash for a minute. Stay is also great if you are inviting guests into the home or if you want to stop and talk to a neighbor while out on a walk. A dog that is in a down stay can’t jump up on someone or be rude!

Before we get started on teaching stay I want to address a common mistake people make when they are teaching their dogs to stay. This mistake actually teaches dogs to break their stay position.

Dogs learn everything through anticipation. If you get your keys may they anticipate a car ride. You get your the dog leash they will anticipate a walk.

If you put your dog in a stay, walk away and call them what do you think you are teaching them?

You are teaching them to anticipate breaking the stay position.

It is fairly rare that in a real life scenario you will have to walk away from your dog twenty feet while he holds a stay then have to call your dog to you.

It is more likely you will have your dog sit stay while you are grabbing your mail, unlocking your car or talking to someone on a walk. It is really easy to call your dog out of the stay position, it is much harder to go back and fix the habit of a dog who has learned how to break the stay. Don’t call your dog out of the stay ALWAYS return to your dog.

STAY DISTANCE STEP 1: Teaching your dog to stay if you walk away

We won’t say “Stay” for this step.

Start with your dog in the down position. Once they are down we can mark with “Yes” and give a treat. Place a flat palm towards your dog and take one step back then immediately one step forward.

When you step forward, if your dog is still in the down position say “yes” and place the treat on the floor where your dog can easily reach it without breaking the down. Go right into your next stay. Don’t reposition them if you can help it. If your dog breaks the down say “at” and put your dog back into the down position. This time when your dog goes back into the down position say “Good”, but don’t treat the down, and place a flat palm towards your dog. Repeat this step you can do five repetitions where your dog doesn’t break.


Great job guys! This next step is going to be much like the last step except now we are going to gradually add distance. Start with our dogs in the down position. Once they are down we can mark the correct behavior by saying “Yes” and treat the correct behavior.

Then use your hand signal (a flat palm facing your dog) don’t say stay yet, and take two steps away from your dog. Immediately walk back to your dog and place the treat right between your dogs front paws on the floor. Repeat this step until you can get five correct in a row without your dog breaking the down position. Remember not to say “stay” yet. We know it is tempting, but it is important that you only say “Yes” for now.


CONGRADULATIONS! You finally get to say the “S” word.

Just like the last two steps we are going to start with our dogs in the down position. Once they are down we can mark and treat the correct behavior. After treating your dog use your hand signal (a flat palm facing dog) as you say “STAY”, and take three steps away from your dog. Immediately walk back to your dog and place the treat right between your dogs front paws on the floor. Repeat this step until you can get five correct in a row without your dog breaking the down position.

For every 5 stays your dog can get correct in a row you can now add another step away from your dog. If your dog breaks 3 stays in a row you have to go back two steps. Just remember that they should be in the same position you left your dog in when you give them their treat.

STAY DISTRACTION STEP 1: Teaching your dog to stay even when there is a reason to get up

I’m excited for this next step because it’s where we really get to see dogs start to exercise their “Impulse control” or doggy self control!

Get your dog into the down position say “Yes” and reward your dog’s down. Have a treat prepared in the hand you have NOT been using for a hand signal. Now, say “stay” as you show your dog your palm. Very slowly take your treat and move it from your shoulder to your hip. If your dog holds the stay position raise your treat hand back up to your shoulder then bring it to your dog. Feed your dog the treat in a place he doesn’t have to get up from the down position. If your dog breaks the stay when you move the treat say “at” and reset your dog in the down position. Don’t treat your dog for a down if he has broken the stay. Instead, repeat stay and slowly start to bring your hand down. If you think your dog will break bring your hand back up. Go ahead and practice these until you can get five in a row where your dog doesn’t break the down position.


This step is going to be much like the last step, but our distraction is going to be a little harder. Just like last time place your dog in the down position and mark and reward the behavior. Then cue your dog to stay using your hand cue and say “stay”. Now lower your treat from your shoulder to your knee very slowly. If your dog holds the down without trying to snatch the treat give your dog a treat. If your dog starts to break the down immediately say “At” raise your treat back up and reset your dog into the down position. Repeat this until you can do five correctly in a row.


This time bring the treat from your shoulder all the way to the floor. If your dog doesn’t break the down position bring the treat to your dog and say “yes” as you place the treat where your dog can easily reach it. If your dog breaks say “At” and reset your dog in the down position. Don’t treat your dog for a down if he has broken the stay. Instead, repeat stay and slowly start to bring your hand down. If you think your dog will break bring your hand back up.

STAY DURATION STEP 1: Teaching you dog to stay for a period of time

Place your dog in a down mark with the word “Yes” and reward. Now, say “stay” and stand next to your dog without moving for 5 seconds if your dog holds it say “Yes” and deliver the treat to the floor in from of your dog. Repeat this stay exercise until you can do five in a row without your dog breaking the position. If your dog breaks the down say “at” and reset them into the down. Repeat until your dog can do five in a row without breaking the down.


For this step we are going to ask our dog to stay for a little bit longer. The longer our dog holds a stay the harder it is for them. Which means that they are learning Doggy Impulse Control. Place your dog in a down say “Yes” and reward with a treat. Now, say “stay” and stand next to your dog without moving for 15 seconds if your dog holds it say “Yes” and deliver the treat to the floor in front of your dog. Repeat this until you can do five in a row without your dog breaking the position. If your dog breaks the down mark with a “at” and reset them into the down. Repeat until your dog can do five in a row.

Once your dog does five, 15 second stays that you can continue to build the length of time you ask your dog to stay adding about ten more seconds for every 5 they can do correctly in a row, but if your dog breaks three stays in a row you have to make it easier by asking them to stay for less time. By making a mistake and breaking the stay your dog is saying “This is a little to hard. I need more practice with it a little easier.”

Once your dog is very solid at preforming the above exercises you can take your training up to the next level by using the 3 D’s of Doggy Impulse Control. When you are practicing the three D’s, distance, duration and distraction try to think of each stay as a question for example….

You might ask your dog, “Can you stay if I take ten steps back?” If your dog holds the stay the first time you attempt this he answered your question with “YES”, if he breaks he says “that’s to hard for me can you make it easier for me?”

Another example might be if you asked your dog, “Can you stay if I lower a treat to the floor?” He may answer that question by holding the stay, so you could also ask your dog “Can you stay if I drop the treat?” or “Can you stay while I lower your ball?” The more questions like these you can help your dog successfully answer the better of a stay expert your dog will be.